Sunday, September 04, 2005

A Question of Priorities

To be totally honest, I am not totally comfortable with what I am going to write in this post, and I expect to receive some harsh feedback in response to it.

Shiloh Musings posted about the efforts underway in Israel by organizations like Magen David Adom to raise funds to assist the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Today's Jerusalem Post reports on the efforts of American Jewry to respond to the call to help the refugees of the areas affected by the disaster.

Yet, at the same time, there are thousands of Jews in Israel who have also recently become refugees. Jews who have lost their homes, lost their livelihoods, their communities. Jews who have been living out of a suitcase, not having access to any of their possessions. Jews who have nowhere to go, and a government that had promised to assist them has abandoned them.

All things being equal, let's imagine that the average Jew who will contribute to these causes has a limited amount of funding to donate. Generally speaking, the average Jew can't afford to give to both, and even if he can, by giving to both, it means that each cause will get less.

As I see it, the tragedy of the refugees in Israel is a Jewish tragedy, and as such, it is incumbent upon every Jew to do their part to help alleviate the suffering. The tragedy of Hurricane Katrina is an American tragedy, not a Jewish one.

As such, I believe, that the 1st priority for Jews, both in Israel and particularly in America, needs to be to help the Jews of Israel before donating to other causes.

Had there been no hurricane, I do not imagine the residents of New Orleans contributing to assist the Jewish refugees in Israel. What it boils down to for American Jews, is where does their loyalty lie 1st, with America, or with their fellow Jews around the world? Are they Jews 1st or Americans 1st?

I am not saying that American Jews should not offer assistance to those suffering from Hurricane Katrina. My point is that this assistance, whatever form it may take, should not come at the expense of the assistance that should be directed to the suffering of their fellow Jews, particularly the Jewish Refugees of Gush Katif and the Shomron, which is a Jewish tragedy (not an Israeli one), while Hurricane Katrina represents an American tragedy (as well as a human one), and the Jews of Ameria should not feel a greater priority to them over their Jewish brothers and sisters.

If we, the Jewish People, do not look after ourselves, no one else will. The same can't be said of the situation that America finds herself in today, as terrible as it may be.



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